We all know and love our HOAs, but do we really understand an association’s purpose? There are two essential purposes which lie at the heart of every association:
- The first purpose is to maintain any common areas or maintenance easement areas (areas owned by an owner but maintained by the association) which exist within the association.
- The second purpose is to enforce the association’s governing documents.
Despite often receiving negative media attention, associations serve many positive purposes. Rather than waiting 12 months for the local City to replace the bulb in the street lamp in front of your home or to resurface your street, your association can very often accomplish these tasks much more quickly. You can also personally have a say in how maintenance is performed within the community by serving on the governing board. It is often far easier to be elected to the board of your association than to your local city council.
Associations have also gained popularity for the role they play in working towards some amount of uniformity within a community. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, unkempt landscaping, largely varying home color schemes and deferred maintenance can severely cripple the value of a residence and and entire community. By requiring owners to properly maintain their residences and giving an association enforcement power in this regard, the value of every residence within the development can at least be maintained and hopefully enhanced.
While there are many positive aspects of living within an association, there are some concepts that some may consider negative. With the requirement of uniformity comes the constraint of conformity. No longer can you paint your house pink (unless it is an approved color); no longer can you allow weeds to grow unchecked in your lawn; no longer can you leave your trash cans out for days on end. Instead, everyone should be held to the same standards within the community.
Living within an association requires owners to give up a degree of personal freedom and choice. Your home remains your castle, but now someone else has the power to determine if your balustrades are properly kept or if your moat needs to be drained and refilled. In fact, the final determination as to whether you can install the built-in barbecue you have always wanted is often in the hands of an architectural committee made up of your neighbors. If handled improperly, this personal, yet impersonal, aspect of associations may foster discontent.
Associations are meant to promote a uniform appearance and lessen the chances of you being upset with your neighbor for not mowing his or her lawn. Unfortunately, associations are often used as a weapon by owners who are upset with their neighbors. Association rules are also sometimes used by homeowners to harass or intimidate their neighbors. Associations should not breed contempt and hatred. If they are following the law and their general purposes, associations can, and should, serve a positive purpose.